Ah, the view from the top ...
Poppa Trix and I love surprises, especially food-related ones. So what better way to celebrate our 2nd anniversary than by taking turns surprising one another? And Poppa came up with the perfect one for me: He took me to Zaytinya in Washington, DC, where Mike Isabella from last season's Top Chef cooks up some seriously good food. The specialty here is inventive Greek, Turkish, and Lebanese small plates, with a particularly strong selection of seafood dishes.
When we first arrived, I was a little nervous that conversation would be out of the question, as it's quite cacophonous on the first floor, but Poppa Trix had done his homework. We were immediately escorted to a cozy nook on the top floor. Romantic evening - saved!
But first things first: cocktails. I became a little obsessed with Aperol spritzers in Vienna, so naturally I went for the Aperol "Faux-groni:"
A never-ending supply of fresh pita bread, still warm from the oven and ever-so-lightly dusted with salt. I could have happily munched on this all night, but I needed to save room for other goodies. To make further use of that bread, however, we ordered three spreads: labneh, a strained Lebanese yogurt with z'atar spice; taramosalata, a fluffy and slightly briny cured carp roe; and htipi, marinated roasted red peppers, feta, and thyme:
I loved these spreads so much that frankly I would have called the dinner a success if I had nothing else, but ... the small plates beckoned. We started with crispy Brussels sprouts afella, with whole coriander seed, barberries, and garlic yogurt ...
and a house special of fried oysters:
The oyster dish contrasted nicely with this pillowy soft slow-poached olive oil salmon, which came with a spicy eggplant and cracked green olive saltsa:
And that octopus ... so tender. Eating it erased a lifetime of emotional scars and trauma accumulated from being repeatedly served chewy, rubbery octopus.
And now I would like to tell you that we had dessert, however ... the heart was willing, but the flesh was very, very full. We had to settle for coffee, as we had a bit of a drive ahead of us. But I'm not complaining - this was such a sweet anniversary surprise. Awesome job, Poppa Trix!
Stay tuned for Part Two ... in which I surprise Poppa Trix with a homemade Creole treat. Happy anniversary Poppa, and here's to many more.